Coral reefs are among the most biologically diverse, complex and productive ecosystems on the planet. Most of coral reef biodiversity consists of tiny organisms living deep within the three-dimensional reef matrix.
Coral reefs are among the most biologically diverse, complex and productive ecosystems on the planet. Most of coral reef biodiversity consists of tiny organisms living deep within the three-dimensional reef matrix. Although largely unseen, this diversity is essential to the survival and function of coral reef ecosystems, and many have worried that climate change will lead to dramatic loss of this diversity.
New research led by scientists at the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa reveals that the species which dominate experimental coral reef communities shift due to climate change, but the total biodiversity does not decline under future ocean conditions of warming and acidification predicted by the end of the century.
The study was published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Science.
“Rather than the predicted collapse of biodiversity under ocean warming and acidification, we found significant changes in the relative abundance, but not the occurrence of species, resulting in a shuffling of coral reef community structure,” said Molly Timmers, lead author who conducted this study during her doctoral research at the Hawaiʻi Institute of Marine Biology (HIMB) at UH Mānoa’s School of Ocean and Earth Science and Technology (SOEST).
Read more at: University of Hawaii at Manoa
Experimental set-up of mesocosms at the Hawaii Institute of Marine Biology. (Photo Credit: Chris Jury, HIMB)